How Fear May Be Keeping You From Knowledge

 

how fear may be keeping you from knowledge -- the evolution of man

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A few weeks ago during the debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham, Christians were posting stuff on Facebook like, “maybe you choose to believe we came from monkeys, but I believe the Bible.”

Evolution in fact does not teach that human beings came from monkeys. It teaches that both humans and apes evolved from a common ancestor. In saying those things, Christians were disowning evolution, even as they showed how dramatically they did not understand evolution. It’s so reactionary, quite small, and pretty darn embarrassing to those of us who think it’s important to know at least something about the thing you’re opposing before you oppose it. It reminds me a little of all the Christians years ago who were protesting “The Last Temptation of Christ,” the majority of whom apparently had not seen it.

It would be like me standing up at a football game and screaming, “You can support the traditional rules of football if you want, but as for me, I’m in favor of the designated hitter.”

No matter your opinion of this post, you’re my friend and I love you, I just thought I’d say a few words in favor of knowledge. How badly more of that is needed! But in order to pursue knowledge, a person must face and conquer fear. Fear (of how knowledge may rock their worlds and challenge their beliefs) is the reason people often choose to remain ignorant, though there has probably never been a time in history where we have less of an excuse for not knowing.

Christians, consider this: If Jesus is who you believe him to be, he knows everything there is to be known. If that’s the case, why should you fear knowledge? The only answer is because you’re afraid you might learn something that makes faith difficult. But that’s not a good reason, because truth is simply reality, the way things actually are. If your God can’t handle the way things really are, that being is not God. At least not any more so than Zeus.

Jesus on Poverty (kind of)

jesus on poverty

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Matthew 5:42 (Dave’s Translation)

Give to the one who asks you, after, of course, you have made sure they’re not just going to buy beer with your money, and after, of course, you think you have a good handle on how much they need it, and whether they’re struggling because of their own stupid choices or if they are truly down on their luck, because of course you don’t want to enable anybody because there are a lot of deadbeats out there you know, and after all, you work very hard for your money and why should you just give it to this guy just because he’s asking for it anyway?

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Is Everyone Racist?

racism -- is everyone racist

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Intro to a controversial question: Is everyone racist?

This article from The Onion recently provoked some good thoughts among some of my conservative brethren and really got me thinking about why it is that conservative arguments on various issues are so often dismissed as racist on some level.

The issue of who is racist and to what degree is in a “post-explosive” state at this point. Conservatives are so used to being called racists that many of them have been intimidated into silence, and liberals have taken for granted so deeply the racism of conservatives that liberals are now more or less permanently “on alert” for those opinions and worldviews at all times, ready to pounce and judge as soon as they are expressed by conservatives.

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How to Get Off of Your Hamster-Wheel

hamster-wheel existence

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Meditation and the Hamster-Wheel

The only hope for humanity to get off the hamster-wheel of existence is for every person to take up the discipline of meditation.

It is the only pathway to move beyond human ego, constant want, and inability to see one’s self and one’s motives clearly. Without it, a person will always live half blind, no matter how well-intended their other spiritual pursuits may be.

Without it, there will always be only your side and my side. There will never be an end to the relentless back and forth we see modeled on a global scale between Israel and the Palestinians, and here at home between Republicans and Democrats, and more personally between spouses, partners, and friends.

Without it, there is no way to really fully forgive ego and intransigence in another person because without it you have not yet fully seen it in yourself. Through meditation, you come to see those qualities in yourself more and more clearly, and as this happens you learn to forgive it in yourself. As you see it more clearly in yourself, you see it more clearly in others, and find it easy to forgive it in them as well.

But every person must come individually to this conclusion.

It is deep and substantial work, and no one can or should force it on another. It must be taken up freely by every individual, as each person realizes they are their own worst enemy, and that the duplicity in themselves is perfectly reflected in the duplicity we see in politics and diplomacy at every level, and in all of our personal relationships.

That is the good news.

And that is the bad news.

It really is as simple as that.

But it is not easy at all.

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Stop admiring your heroes and start emulating them!

martin luther king stop admiring your heroes and start emulating them

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Contempt for the process of becoming great

Many in our society mock the geeky kid singing in the glee club, but revere that same kid when he grows up to be Steven Tyler or Carrie Underwood. Then the former mockers may well claim to be their “biggest fans.”

Similarly, people often mock those who advocate peace, justice, non-violence, and global oneness, dismissing them as soft, impractical, or liberal. That is, until these soft, impractical, and liberal people end up becoming the Martin Luther King Jrs, the Malala Yousafzais, the Jimmy Carters (the statesman, not the president), and the Gandhis of the world. Then they are venerated and honored as the best of the best. Everyone wants to embrace them as their own.

This illustrates both our hypocrisy and lack of understanding of the growth process. We consistently mock the kittens but revere the cats. We idolize those who have arrived, but disregard those who are starting out on that same journey. It’s cool to be a rock star, but it’s uncool to actually learn about music. It’s cool to be a global force for peace in adulthood, but uncool to adopt the values of, say, a Martin Luther King Jr. before one actually becomes famous for those values.

Absolving ourselves from responsibility to be great

In taking these shallow attitudes, we distance ourselves from the great peacemakers of the world, excusing ourselves from ever becoming like them. We say, “I’m no Martin Luther King, Jr.” True as that may be, every person can begin to embrace the universal values King embraced, right from wherever they currently are. Over time those values, lived out consistently, will inevitably bear fruit. But we are distracted. Or spoiled. Or weak-willed. Or fearful. Or ignorant. Or simply unwilling to live for any cause greater than ourselves (though, of course, we deeply admire those who are willing).

Having thus distanced ourselves from living the way the great peacemakers lived, and from responsibility to actually adopt their values, not simply to admire them, we then go about criticizing our leaders, as if we are victims. But our leaders arise out of the same fearful, selfish soup as the rest of us. Yes, it is too bad more of them are not more principled, but it’s far more tragic that we expect our leaders to have already have a depth of character most us don’t even aspire to have. It is either worth having or it isn’t. If it’s worth having, then we ourselves are the hypocrites when we fail to adopt the values that will, inevitably, make us into the towering characters we expect others to be.

Moving beyond admiration to emulation

No, not everyone is meant to be a famous peacemaker, like MLK, Jimmy Carter, or Malala, and that is not the point. Either world-changers are world-changers or they are not. If they are, that comes from their values, principles, and character. If we revere these people, we have a responsibility to become that which we revere, which means going past admiring those qualities in others to developing them in ourselves. This means we must respect and nurture the “kittens,” those among us who may not be famous but who are building these values into their lives and may someday emerge as local, national, and/or global voices for peace.  We should never discourage them, dismiss them as impractical, or reject them because we do not like their politics. We are dense, indeed, if we do not understand that the politics of the world’s true peacemakers, are direct reflections of their deeply cultivated characters.

Question: How are you intentionally setting out to become like the people you most admire? Let me know in the comments section!